What it’s Like to Stay at One of Metro Manila’s Best-Rated Hotels?
Does Azumi Boutique Hotel live up to the hype?
Azumi Boutique Hotel in Muntinlupa City is one of the best-rated hotels in Metro Manila in 2016, according to travel and hotel booking websites TripAdvisor (4.5/5 out of 611 reviews) and TravelBook.ph (4.5/5 out of 40 reviews). Reviewers praised it mostly for its location, quality of rooms, efficient service, and value for money. Barely into 2017, I was asked to review the sought-after hotel but I felt a bit unenthusiastic. I mean, what else is there to blog about when critics have already raved about it over and over again and I’m not even an established hotel reviewer myself? Still, it would be dumb to say no to a post-Valentine’s weekend getaway with the wife. So with enough clothes for an overnight stay, we went on a two-hour trip from Antipolo to Alabang. Interestingly, it was raining like hell that day, and it got me intrigued on how Azumi Boutique Hotel will fare with the gloomy weather.
But even with gray skies, the elegance of Azumi Boutique Hotel was hard to ignore. It rises on an almost empty space along Alabang-Zapote road and stands within walking distance from restaurants and a grocery. As we approached the entrance, we were impressed with how modern its façade is: it was like one of those classy furniture stores in Bonifacio Global City because of the cozy and artistic furnishings that you can spot through the glass walls. But when we entered, we felt like we were in a real furniture store—and it was holding a sale. The lobby was bustling with numerous stayers waiting for check-in and the attendees to a private party at the Romulo Café next to the lobby. It was possibly the two-hour trip that got us overwhelmed by the presence of so many people. But in the middle of all the hustle and bustle, Azumi Boutique Hotel’s efficient service deftly came into play.
Sensing the confusion on my face, one of their staff members immediately assisted me to the reception, and I felt much more at home. Moments later, I was presented with a keycard to our Garden Room accommodation as well as stubs for complimentary drinks at the penthouse and access to WiFi. Unsurprisingly, they offered to assist us with our luggage but I opted to carry them myself—I needed an outlet for that extra energy I absorbed at the lobby.
The scene was completely opposite when I opened the guestroom’s door for my wife: we were greeted with a comforting atmosphere from the luscious color combinations from the charcoal walls, wooden cabinets, and orange chairs and throw pillows. The balcony is verdant from the artificial grass, which stood out even with the lack of sunshine. We had a queen-size bed and a daybed, both in front of a Samsung flat screen TV. Next to the entrance is a kitchenette complete with a sink, fridge, a microwave oven, and an assortment of affordable mini-bar items: soda is PHP 35.00 a pop (no pun intended), while snacks like nuts and chips are less than PHP 50.00.
The WiFi access is limited to two devices and the speed was pretty okay; the wife and I were able to connect to our social media accounts and YouTube on our phones easily. With affordable snacks, our favorite weekend TV shows, the decent wireless internet, and the lazy bed weather, the wife and I struggled to fight off the temptation to just stay in our cozy room for the rest of the day.
Meanwhile, the bathroom adds a dash of quirkiness to the guestroom since it is behind a clear glass wall. There is a roller blind that you can use to cover up but it’s on the other side of the glass—a cheeky touch for couples staying in. For friends and families, Azumi Boutique Hotel has other rooms with solid walls covering the bathrooms.
After settling down and getting amused with the bathroom, my wife and I decided to head to the rooftop. Days before our stay, our contact from Azumi Boutique Hotel reminded us to check out their penthouse, especially the newly renovated infinity pool. Thankfully, the sky was clearing up a bit when we got there, making the stunning saltwater lap pool look picturesque with Alabang’s skyline in the background. Also at the penthouse is Flask High Bar, the hotel’s very own rooftop bar, which we visited later that night for the complimentary drinks.
After going out for dinner and having nightcap at the rooftop bar, we went back to our room to take a shower and retire for the night. The bathroom is equipped with an elegant rainfall shower, though the temperature can be a bit tricky to control at first. The bed is also really comfortable that I had a dream about my dog that night—a vivid dream means I was able to sleep deeply. My wife, meanwhile, said that she slept so soundly that she thought she was home.
It was drizzling again when we got up the next day for breakfast. We went down to Romulo’s Café to sample their morning buffet: different kinds of bread with butter, cheese, and jam; corned beef; daing na bangus; tuyo; sausages; ham; waffles; cereals; scrambled eggs; ham, garlic and plain rice; and fresh fruit. There was vegetable salad if you’re vegetarian and pancit bihon—a bit out of place but those extra carbs should come in handy for the lengthy drive home after check-out. Their champorado, however, easily stole the show. It had just the right amount of sweetness and bitterness that you don’t have to tame the flavor with loads of milk. My wife just had to post a picture of the champorado on her Instagram with a caption that said, “The best champorado ever. With or without tuyo.” Heck, you can eat it with sausages and ham, and it would still be superb.
We savored the remaining hours of our stay at Azumi Boutique Hotel until it was time for check-out. Before that, one of the staff members gladly answered some of our questions and gave us a quick tour of the other accommodations: Queen Room, Twin Room, and Double Queen Room. We were told that like most businesses, the hotel had a slow start when it opened three years ago—only receiving 10 to 20 bookings a day. But through creative marketing efforts and preserving its strong points, it began to pick up steam and the rest is history.
The staff member also pointed out to us that almost all areas of Azumi Boutique Hotel, including the hotel rooms, have no scent at all—thanks to the ECOCARAT tiles installed on its walls. It is a one of a kind material that controls odors and moisture to ensure that the hotel stays fresh and exudes a comforting vibe at all times. The staff member admitted that the hotel spent a fortune on purchasing ECOCARAT. But as an eco-friendly establishment, the investment has been absolutely worth it.
I couldn’t agree more: Azumi Boutique Hotel simply deserved to be one of the best-rated hotels in Metro Manila in 2016, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they have another good run this year. While waiting for our ride home, the lobby was still filled with people—some of them looked confused like us when we first arrived. But for me, it didn’t matter anymore. It is one of the finest boutique hotels in Metro Manila—it’s supposed to be bustling with people on a weekend, even with gloomy weather.
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